Thursday, March 3, 2016

Back That Splash Up

You have no idea how excited I am about that post title.  It has me laughing in my computer chair a great deal more than it should.  Sometimes I think I'm pretty funny.  At least my 2 year old agrees (sometimes).

We've been knocking out some kitchen projects mostly, thanks to some "new year, let's get things off the to-do list" motivation.  Some before pictures, just a few weeks ago:
The buckets in this picture are Luke helping me "decorate".

First up was scraping and repainting under our cabinets. This wasn't done when we repainted the front of the cabinets (or the insides) since we never painted the full cabinets (just the doors, not the frame) and sometimes we can be lazy.  They looked like this:

Not pretty.  We don't have a vent for our gas stove which might be a problem but hasn't killed us in 10 years so I guess it's ok.  That could be causing at least some of the peeling.  This was pretty easy, just taking an hour or two on a Saturday.  I scraped, sanded, and did two coats of paint with built in primer.  It's not something most people will ever see (before I put the pictures on the internet) but it makes me feel better knowing it looks better.

Next up was replacing the kitchen lights.  When we did our mini kitchen update 4 years ago we replaced the big dark boxes with these:

I don't know how we settled on these but I remember it was a really quick decision.  I haven't liked them for years, partially for looks, partially for all the shadows they cast in the kitchen.  I had a lot of ideas of what to replace them with but was limited by price and how much light they would give off.  I think the ones we ended up with would be better over a kitchen island but they certainly work here and look better than what we had.  Matt is capable of doing the rewiring to move down to just one light but that would be a pain and, like I said, we are lazy sometimes.  Plus, I like a lot of light in the kitchen.

Someone was trying to sneak animal crackers while Mom was distracted with picture taking.
To add even more light, we added LED strip lights to the underside of the cabinets.  Matt found these on some flash deal sight and I wasn't real sold on them in the beginning until we did the project that this post is named for.

The backsplash.  I don't know why we didn't consider adding one 4 years ago but I don't remember it even coming up.  After the bathroom was done I started talking about adding a tile back splash to the kitchen.  Matt was firmly against doing a real tile backsplash, with individual tiles, mortar and everything.  I think doing the tub surround was enough for him for awhile.  But he did agree to doing a peel n stick backsplash.  So when Menards had a recent 11% rebate we measured and bought a lot of backsplash.  We bought these which are also what we used around the bathroom vanity.

For me the process was straight forward.  I helped clear the counters, wiped down the walls, and then kept Luke out of Matt's way.  We did this on that rare and perfect Saturday we had recently, where it was 70° and sunny in February which is basically unheard of around here.  (That same weekend last year Matt took Luke sledding.)  Which meant we could work on this with the kitchen windows open and Luke and I got some playtime outside before a family bike ride and supper outside.  It was amazing.

But as for the actual "tiling" process it seemed fairly easy.  Matt used slats from an old blind as a spacer above the counter (room for caulk) and then just had to keep the tile straight which is easier said than done in an old house like ours.  Apparently all the cabinets and counters were not level with each other.  With the gorgeous weather, Matt was able to do all his cutting in the backyard (anything that keeps the mess out of the house is a plus for me).  My big contributions (other than Luke duty) was cleaning the sides of the stove while it was pulled out and also painting behind the stove since that's something we did really half-@$$ed when we did our painting 4 years ago.  (We didn't move the stove then and it was really obvious to me!)

He got all the tile up on Saturday, we took Sunday off (day of rest and all), and then spent Monday night putting up all the tape for caulking. That was a lot of tape and more intense than I would have guessed.  I cleaned the kitchen and did some hot gluing while Matt did the taping (if you haven't caught on yet, my main role in this project was "supervising").

Tuesday night Matt caulked which he's done plenty but says using colored caulk (grey here) is much tougher than white since it's harder to hide mistakes.  I took his word for it since I was doing Duplos with Luke at the time.  But, two tubes of caulk later he was done and it was beautiful!!  We had long (since we moved in??) had a decent sized gap between the back of the counters and the wall which had started to drive me crazy.  There were also gaps under the window trim which just seemed inefficient.

We were finally able to push the stove back against the wall before letting the caulk fully cure overnight and things went back on the counter.  I had reached for spoons and chapstick in the wrong places for too many days!

We were both absolutely amazed at what a difference this project made.  I wasn't expecting much and was pretty leery about adding darker tile, since I generally seem to prefer white kitchens (at least according to my Pinterest pins).  BUT, even with the grey, it is such a wonderful improvement for a few (6? 8?) hours of work over a few days.  This will be so much easier to wipe clean and reflects our new under cabinet lights SO. MUCH. BETTER.   I was beyond excited to "restyle" our counters.

So, the take away.  Put up a kitchen backsplash if you don't have one.  And marry a handy husband.  Who is willing to do a lot (most) of the work on (some of) your projects!  I am a very good idea maker and supervisor!

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